Monday, June 27, 2005

Dave at the Glittering Eye has posted his official review of the Pentagon's New Map and has solicited comments. An excerpt:

"I agree without qualifications with Barnett's optimistic view of America's grand strategy and with his unrelenting insistence that the benefits of the Lockean Core should be open to people of all countries regardless of gender, race, religion, or ethnicity. I agree with his view of the general benignity of America's grand strategy although this view puts both of us at odds with a considerable fraction of the American electorate, mostly in the Democratic Party. I also agree with Barnett's view of the relationship between the United States and China and that the likelihood of superpower war between the United States and China is extremely remote (I don't necessarily agree with Barnett's explanations for why this is so since I believe that issues completely internal to China are more significant than connectivity in explaining the relationship). However, I do think that Barnett's model has some flaws and the remainder of this post will attempt to identify a few of them.

The first and most serious flaw is that Barnett never proposes a rigorous, quantifiable, testable definition of connectivity. The Core and Gap are areas on a map and Barnett tells us the difference is connectivity. The difference is that the area referred to as the Gap contains the problem spots and Barnett explains those problem spots by connectivity. We need a better test for determining whether a country is Core (which includes countries like the United States, France and Germany), New Core (which includes countries like China and India), Seam States (like Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey), or Gap (Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Colombia, etc.)....

...The second flaw is that I think that Barnett is a victim of his own metaphor. I don't read Hobbes's Leviathan as a call for a universal system of consensual rule by law. I read it as a demand for a powerful sovereign to keep the peace. When you characterize the U. S. role as Leviathan, it is in fact a call for an American Empire. Barnett is very clear in calling for American rules rather than American rule. But that's not what Leviathan is about. He needs to come up with a different metaphor to avoid tearing down his own argument.

Barnett's notion of dividing the responsibilities of the Pentagon between Leviathan responsibilities and what he refers to as System Administration responsibilities is ahistoric. Historically, several forces—genuinely different groups of people—have been influential in U. S. foreign policy decision making: isolationists, idealistic internationalists, economic realists, and populist nationalists. For a handy key to understanding these groups this post of mine.

Our military has historically been and currently is heavily influenced by Jacksonians. Jacksonians have little or no interest in the objectives Barnett is setting out for the SysAdmin force. That group will necessarily be composed of Hamiltonians and Wilsonians. You can't carve out the function of SysAdmin. It will have to be added on both for political and druthers reasons. And I honestly don't see any willingness of the American people to fund such a group as an add-on. "

You should read the whole thing. As usual, Dave is both measured and insightful in his criticisms, identifying several areas for additional questions or where Dr. Barnett's thesis required greater support . Since Dave asked me for feedback, I have forwarded his post to Thomas Barnett and responded in Dave's comments section, some of which I have reproduced below:

"* I too noticed that Core-Seam-Gap status could use some quick & dirty quantification. In one of my early PNM-related reviews I suggested a Bell Curve model be constructed. If PNM blooms into a full-blown analytical school of thought, as it has the potential for doing, that is an area for further work by somebody with a good grounding in quantitative analysis methodology.

* " Leviathan " - my read is that Dr. Barnett picked that nomenclature in the biblical-mythic sense of an awe-inspiring figure of titanic size and power and not the Hobbesian philosophical sense of the proper role of the State.

* Leviathan vs. System Administration forces: This would indeed require an unprecedented restructuring of American military foces that would dwarf the changes of 1947 when the Navy and War departments were fused into the DoD and the JCS and Air Force were created. The driver here is not Dr. Barnett's book but the real-world pressure of repeated nation-building MOOTW deployments and the difficulties of the Iraqi insurgency.

* The need for the U.S. have some kind of force that specializes in " nation-building" is becoming an inarguable consensus -what and who would compose a System Administration and how/when/where to deploy it is something hotly disputed. "

One of the nice things about PNM is that Dr. Barnett has to an extent, treated it as an " open-system" to which others might make contributions or find new fields of application. Most theorists prefer to have " closed-systems" in which their jealously-guarded work is considered a sacred text and their followers tend to sound fairly robotic - not to name any names like, say, Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein, Edward Said....you get the idea.

What you have ultimately in the latter instance is a point of intellectual sterility when the theory, frozen in time, becomes less a model of reality than it does irrelevant dogma. That Tom has made the atypical, risk-accepting, choice at each stage of promoting his grand strategy is one reason PNM has continued to gain influence.

I'm already looking forward to reading Dave's review of Blueprint for Action !

* " Leviathan " - my read is that Dr. Barnett picked that nomenclature in the biblical-mythic sense of an awe-inspiring figure of titanic size and power and not the Hobbesian philosophical sense of the proper role of the State.

The "Hobbesian philosophical sense of the proper role of the state seems to be Barnett's SysAdmin.

Hobbes didn't see the Leviathan as a tool for rapid takedown of enemy regimes. He saw it as a tool of sustained construction of peaceful regimes.

Hobbes' undemocratic Leviathan is a veritical force that spreads out horizontally over time. It should be part of any A-Z ruleset for reforming morally bankrupct regimes.

-Dan tdaxp
Great Post but was not what I was looking for. But you really have a gread blog here. Keep it going.

I'll stop back every so often to see new updates maybe something will interest me in the future.

Have a good day.
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